100 Best Restaurants 2008: Rasika

No. 41: Rasika

Cuisine: Stylized, regionally specific Indian cooking. Chef Vikram Sunderam, late of London’s Bombay Brasserie, is behind the artful, often incendiary plates.

Mood: Crystal-bead curtains catch the light in this sleek jewel box of a room done up in saffron, red, and onionskin brown. Though the dining room is separate from the bar, when the beautiful people gather three deep for Spicy Queen martinis, noise travels.

Best for: Cocktails or dinner before or after a show at the Shakespeare Theatre and trendoids who love Indian food.

Best dishes: Pungent eggplant mellowed with peanut sauce; ragda patties, mini-towers of potato, chickpeas, and tamarind-date chutney; delicately spiced lobster masala; wild-boar vindaloo, a shank on a fiery red sauce of Kashmiri chilis; chocolate-filled samosa—get it with a bowl of house-made ice cream.

Insider tips: The wine list is extraordinary for an Indian restaurant, so hail the sommelier. There are several special menus: a three-course pretheater menu for $28, a four-course tasting menu for $55 (a vegetarian version is $36), and a six-course chef’s table, $75. All are available with wine pairings.

Service: ••

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.